Why the Knicks should stay away from 76ers star shooting guard  

James Harden, Evan Fournier, New York Knicks
Feb 5, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) controls the ball against New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) and guards Evan Fournier (13) and Miles McBride (2) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The talent the New York Knicks possess can’t be understated. A plethora of two-way guards, all selfless in their roles, provide the Knicks with a great variety of lineup choices on any given night.

Despite this, there has been longing by Knicks fans for the team to acquire a big-time player. A popular name tied to New York is star Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard James Harden.

But given the result of last season, the three-time scoring champ is not in New York’s timeline. 

Knicks reportedly not motivated to make a move for Harden

To pull off a trade of that caliber, the Knicks would be saying goodbye to one of their core players. After shocking the NBA with an upset over the Cavaliers in the playoffs, breaking the chemistry that has been cultivating would be a reset for the Knicks.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “The Knicks talked to the Sixers early on in this thing, but there’s no great motivation for the Knicks to do a 1-year rental on James Harden.”

New York is once again becoming a prime destination for NBA stars to play. The basketball culture of the city is unmatched, and the Knicks under the tutelage of head coach Tom Thibodeau have re-emerged as a contending team in the Eastern Conference.

Yet, with $35 million due to Harden next season, making a trade for him would mean guaranteeing he resigns in the offseason. Speculation around what the Knicks will do with Evan Fournier leads many to believe he’s in any deal, but for a player of Harden’s caliber, he won’t be alone. 

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Harden would create a defensive hole in the lineup

The Knicks have prided themselves on wreaking havoc defensively this upcoming season. They possess a guard rotation led by Jalen Brunson, consisting of Quentin Grimes, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo, and Immanuel Quickley.

Another year under their belts, they can’t be contested for their production on both sides of the ball. The Knicks possess arguably the best guard rotation in the entire NBA.

Choosing James Harden over the current crop would leave holes defensively and reestablish a hierarchy that would alter team chemistry.

Finishing 19th out of 30 last season in team defensive rating, the jumps made in the progression of Knicks’ current players indicate this metric only gets better, and that is not a guarantee with James Harden. Nevertheless, the Knicks have the fourth-best odds to land Harden this season